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The Somerset Guardian, 17th April 2024

Working from home should be a privilege, not a right. There are, of course, odd times when people need to work from home and indeed, businesses that have decided that this is the working style that they wish to implement.

However, those who work in the public sector should be returning in accordance with what was expected of them pre-Covid; many need to be in the office, anyway, simply to do their job. We witnessed this during lockdown when there was an enormous backlog of passport and driving licence applications all because these legal documents need to be processed in the office. Such delays affect people’s lives detrimentally, burden other resources and have a knock-on effect on the economy.

At the weekend, I visited Cafe 25 in Bathampton to speak to the owner, Ms Martin, who, as a business owner, has frequent communication with His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Keeping the channels open is key for small businesses who want to get on with running them and continue delivering a service to local communities that often rely on them.

Ms Martin told me that every time she telephones HMRC she gets no answer and her enquiries are not responded to. This may be because she is not put through to the right department or, perhaps, it is because those HMRC employees who are supposedly working from home are, in fact, not. Similar to the Tories’ slogan about Labour, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that working from home is not working.

In my time as a Member of Parliament, it has been my experience that HMRC always provided an excellent service until recently. This is serious and needs addressing at once. Let us get productivity back into this country, let us help small businesses and let us steer people back into their offices where they ought to be.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance:

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